1985 Saw the Debuts of Back to the Future, The Golden Girls, Whitney Houston, Michael Jordan and more—who wouldn't want to take a trip back?
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
People Special Edition Celebrating the 80s 1985 Cover

“Don’t you forget about me . . .”

Where were you in 1985? If you went to the movies to see The Breakfast Club or attended a high school graduation that year, you would have heard the Simple Minds' theme song, with its characteristic 80s synthesizer and singer Jim Kerr’s earnest plea to be remembered in some distant future when those Gen X kids—in detention onscreen or marching in caps and gowns—would be as old and square as their parents. “When you grow up,” warns Ally Sheedy’s black-clad recluse in the film, “your heart dies.”

Grab Cut Insert Cut F:PHOTOMediaFactory ActionsRequests DropBox38975#EverettHTRA201_VV066_H.JPG
The Breakfast Club
| Credit: Everett

And yet: Here we are, 35 years later.  If you lived through 1985 in real time, you may find that your heart still beats for the era. Even if you didn’t, you may still hear the echoes of Prince and Madonna and Bruce Springsteen in their chart-topping prime, of Marty McFly’s first trip into the past in Back to the Future, of The Goonies or of St. Elmo’s Fire. Admit it: You still kind of love that film.

Now a special issue of People Celebrating the '80s: 1985 Edition takes a look back the best-loved entertainment and most memorial events of 1985. It's a safe space for all your guilty past pleasures, even if they include Rob Lowe explaining the world to Demi Moore in St. Elmo's Fire by lighting hair spray on fire. (The country wouldn’t ban aerosols with atmosphere-destroying CFCs for nearly another 10 years, so why not make the storytelling most of them?)

St. Elmo's Fire
| Credit: Everett

The year was a landmark for pop culture. It introduced wide audiences to The Color Purple stars Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey whose talk show went national soon after, to cozy-as-tea sex therapist Dr. Ruth, to Whitney Houston, who made her recording debut, and to the NBA rookie of the year, Michael Jordan.

Coming after the success of the 1984 holiday single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” which singer Bob Geldof had orchestrated to raise money for and awareness of people suffering famine in Ethiopia, 1985 saw a sharp rise in celebrity-led activism with U.S.A. for Africa, Live Aid, Farm Aid, Artists United Against Apartheid and other starry benefit events. Suddenly buying a record (yes, a record) or a concert ticket could make you feel good by doing good.  It was the year that Reagan met Gorbachev in Switzerland, Princess Diana met John Travolta and danced at the White House, while TV viewers met The Golden Girls, Cagney & Lacey, the Carrington clan of Dynasty, and the pastel-clad cops of Miami Vice. 

Live Aid At Wembley Stadium
Queen's Freddie Mercury at Live Aid
| Credit: FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty

Plus: Test how much you remember about what was popular in 1985 with our Ultimate Pop Culture Quiz—including the Name That Mullet challenge. People's new special issue, Celebrating the '80s: 1985 Edition is available now wherever magazines are sold.